Red Wings Fans in Shock as Fan Favorite Zamboni Driver Fired After 51 Years
Shock. There is no other way to really put it. The man behind the "big machine, " the octopus twirler, and the gatekeeper so to speak, has been fired from the Detroit Red Wings.
A staple with the Red Wings for 51 years, Al Sobotka was as much a Red Wing as the players. It was reported Wednesday that 68 year old Sobotka, who had been an employee with the Red Wings organization since 1971, had parted ways with the NHL team.
The reason for his termination remains unclear, but a report from MLive says Sobotka has hired an attorney and may sue the team for wrongful termination. It's clear that Sobotka didn't leave on his own from the job he's held since high school. The Detroit Free Press received an email from Don McLean, a rep for Sobotka, in which the fan loved Zamboni driver said,
“I loved my 51 years with the Detroit Red Wings, and would have been happy to stay 51 more.”
Sobotka followed the Red Wings from their home at Olympia Arena to the current ice at Little Caesars Arena continuing to drive the Zamboni and become a constant fixture with fans. What I remember, along with many others, was the way he would get fans fired up during the playoffs back in the 90s by grabbing one of the many octopi that would find their way to ice. The way he would swing those things around made Sobotka an instant legend in Detroit amongst hockey fans.
Al Sobotka has a huge tie with the organization that went beyond taking care of the ice. It's said that off the ice Sobotka would cook for the players and coaches cooking up a barbeque at the arena. Interesting as well is the fact that the Detroit Red Wings mascot, the giant purple octopus name Al, was in fact named after Sobotka.
So what happened? That's the big question on everyone's mind. This story is developing and we will keep you up to date. Until we know more...Al ...we're gonna miss you.
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